|Real Name:||Natalie Hershlag|
|Profession:||Israeli-born American actress|
Natalie Portman (born Natalie Hershlag, June 9, 1981) is an Israeli-born American actress. She has had an extensive career in film since her teenage years and starred in various blockbusters and independent films, receiving multiple accolades such as an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Portman began her acting career at age twelve, when she starred as the young protégée of a hitman in the action drama film Léon: The Professional (1994). While in high school, she made her Broadway debut in a 1998 production of The Diary of a Young Girl and gained international recognition for starring as Padmé Amidala in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). From 1999 to 2003, Portman attended Harvard University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, while continuing to act in the Star Wars prequel trilogy (2002, 2005) and in The Public Theater’s 2001 revival of Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull. In 2004, Portman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and won a Golden Globe Award for playing a mysterious stripper in the romantic drama Closer.
Portman’s career progressed with her starring roles as Evey Hammond in V for Vendetta (2005), Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), and a troubled ballerina in the psychological horror film Black Swan (2010), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She starred in the romantic comedy No Strings Attached (2011) and portrayed Jacqueline Kennedy in the biopic Jackie (2016), earning her a third Academy Award nomination. Portman has also featured as Jane Foster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero films Thor (2011), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), which established her among the world’s highest-paid actresses.
Portman’s directorial ventures include the short film Eve (2008) and the biographical drama A Tale of Love and Darkness (2015). She is vocal about the politics of the United States and Israel and is an advocate for animal rights and environmental causes. She is married to dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, with whom she has two children.
Table of Contents
Early life and education (Natalie Portman Biography)
Natalie Herschlag was born on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, to Jewish parents with roots in Poland, Austria, and Russia. She is the only child of Shelley (née Stevens), an American homemaker who works as Portman’s agent, and Avner Hershlag, an Israeli-born gynecologist. Her maternal grandparents were American Jews, whereas her paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants to Israel.
Portman and her family first lived in Washington, D.C., but relocated to Connecticut in 1988 and then moved to Long Island in 1990. While living in Washington Portman attended Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland. Her native language is Hebrew. While living on Long Island, she attended a Jewish elementary school, the Solomon Schechter Day School of Nassau County. She studied ballet and modern dance at the American Theater Dance Workshop and regularly attended the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. Describing her early life, Portman has said that she was “different from the other kids. I was more ambitious. I knew what I liked and what I wanted, and I worked very hard. I was a very serious kid.”
Career (Natalie Portman Biography)
1994–1998: Early work and acting background
Six months after Ruthless! ended, Portman auditioned for and secured a leading role in Luc Besson’s action drama Léon: The Professional (1994). To protect her privacy, she adopted her paternal grandmother’s maiden name, Portman, as her stage name. She played Mathilda, an orphan child who befriends a middle-aged hitman (played by Jean Reno). Her parents were reluctant to let her do the part due to the explicit sexual and violent nature of the script but agreed after Besson took out the nudity and the killings committed by Portman’s character. Portman herself said that after those scenes were removed, she found nothing objectionable about the content. Even so, her mother was displeased with some of the “sexual twists and turns” in the finished film, which was not part of the script. Hal Hinson of The Washington Post commended Portman for bringing a “genuine sense of tragedy” to her part, but Peter Rainer of the Los Angeles Times believed that she “isn’t enough of an actress to unfold Mathilda’s pain” and criticized Besson’s sexualization of her character.
1999–2006: Star Wars, education, and transition to adult roles
Portman began filming the part of Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy in 1997, which marked her first big-budget production. The first film of the series, Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released in 1999 when she was in her senior year of high school. Portman was unfamiliar with the franchise when she was cast, and watched the original Star Wars trilogy before filming began. She worked closely with the director George Lucas on her character’s accent and mannerisms and watched the films of Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, and Katharine Hepburn to draw inspiration from their voice and stature. Filming in arduous locations in Algeria proved challenging for Portman, who struggled with the process of making a film involving special effects. She did not attend the film’s premiere so she could study for her high school finals. Critics disliked the film but with earnings of $924 million worldwide it was the second highest-grossing film of all time to that point, and it established Portman as a global star.
2007–2015: Career expansion and Black Swan
Portman began 2007 by replacing Jodie Foster in Wong Kar-wai’s romantic drama My Blueberry Nights, which was his first English-language film. For her role as a gambler, she trained with a poker coach. Richard Corliss of Time magazine believed that “for once she’s not playing a waif or a child princess but a mature, full-bodied woman” and commended her “vibrancy, grittiness and ache, all performed with a virtuosa’s easy assurance”. Her next appearance was in Hotel Chevalier, a short film from Wes Anderson, which served as a prologue to his feature The Darjeeling Limited (in which Portman had a cameo). In the short, she and Jason Schwartzman play former lovers who reunite in a Paris hotel room. For the first time, Portman performed an extended nude scene; she was later disappointed at the undue focus on it and she subsequently swore off appearing nude again. Keen to work in different genres, Portman accepted a role in the children’s film Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, playing an employee of a magical toy store. She also appeared in Paul McCartney’s music video “Dance Tonight” from his album Memory Almost Full, directed by Michel Gondry.
2016–present: Jackie and beyond
Portman portrayed Jacqueline Kennedy in the Pablo Larraín-directed biopic Jackie (2016), about Kennedy’s life immediately after the 1963 assassination of her husband. She was initially intimidated to take on the part of a well-known public figure, and eventually researched Kennedy extensively by watching videos of her, reading books, and listening to audiotapes of her interviews. She also worked with a dialect coach to adopt Kennedy’s unique speaking style. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter termed it an “incandescent performance” and added that “her Jackie is both inscrutable and naked, broken but unquestionably resilient, a mess and yet fiercely dignified”. She won the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actress and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She also served as producer for the comedy horror film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, directed by Burr Steers, and starred in Rebecca Zlotowski’s French-Belgian drama Planetarium. The 2017 experimental romance Song to Song marked Portman’s second collaboration with Terrence Malick, which like their previous film polarized critics.
Activism (Natalie Portman Biography)
Portman, who is an advocate for animal rights, became a vegetarian at age eight, a decision which came after she witnessed a demonstration of laser surgery on a chicken while attending a medical conference with her father. She became a vegan in 2009 after reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals and later produced a documentary on factory farming systems in the U.S. by the same title. In September 2017, she was recognized for her work on the film by the Environmental Media Association Awards with the Ongoing Commitment Award. She does not wear animal products and praised the animal-friendly products that Stella McCartney and Target designed. In 2007, she launched her own brand of animal-friendly footwear with no fur, leather, or feathers. In 2007, Portman traveled to Rwanda with Jack Hanna, to film the documentary, Gorillas on the Brink. Later, at a naming ceremony, Portman named a baby gorilla Gukina, which means “to play”. Portman has been an advocate of environmental causes since childhood when she joined an environmental song and dance troupe known as World Patrol Kids.
In 2020, Portman endorsed the “defund the police” movement. In 2020, Portman collaborated with JusticeLA to create a public service announcement #SuingToSaveLives about the health of people in L.A. County jails amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Later in 2020, Portman was announced as one of the investors in an almost all-female group that was awarded a new franchise in the National Women’s Soccer League, the top level of the women’s sport in the U.S. Since unveiled as Angel City FC, the new team is set to start to play in 2022.
Personal life and endorsements (Natalie Portman Biography)
Portman is married to French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, with whom she has two children. The couple began dating in 2009 after having met while working together on the set of Black Swan and wed in a Jewish ceremony held in Big Sur, California, on August 4, 2012. The family lived in Paris for a time after Millepied accepted the position of director of dance with the Paris Opera Ballet, and Portman expressed a desire to become a French citizen. As of 2013, they reside in Los Angeles.
In 2006, Portman commented that she felt more Jewish in Israel and that she would like to raise her children Jewish: “A priority for me is definitely that I’d like to raise my kids Jewish, but the ultimate thing is to have someone who is a good person and who is a partner.” In January 2014, Millepied said he was in the process of converting to Judaism.
In 2010, Portman signed on with Dior and appeared in several of the company’s advertising campaigns. In October 2012, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority banned a Dior advertisement that featured Portman wearing Dior mascara after a complaint from Dior’s competitor, L’Oreal. The ASA ruled that the photographs of Portman “misleadingly exaggerated the likely effects of the product”. Portman is the face of one of the company’s fragrances, Miss Dior, inspired by Catherine Dior. She has starred in campaign videos for the fragrance and promoted a new version of the fragrance, Rose N’Roses, in 2021.
Filmography and awards (Natalie Portman Biography)
Portman’s most acclaimed and highest-grossing films, according to the online portal Box Office Mojo and the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, include Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), Closer (2004), Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), V for Vendetta (2005), Black Swan (2010), No Strings Attached (2011), Thor (2011), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Jackie (2016), and Annihilation (2018).
Portman was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama and the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Black Swan, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for Closer. She has received two more Academy Award nominations: Best Supporting Actress for Closer and Best Actress for Jackie; and two more Golden Globe nominations: Best Supporting Actress for Anywhere but Here (1999) and Best Actress in a Drama for Jackie.
|1994||Léon: The Professional||Mathilda Lando|
|Everyone Says I Love You||Laura Dandridge|
|Mars Attacks!||Taffy Dale|
|1999||Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace||Padmé Amidala|
|Anywhere but Here||Ann August|
|2000||Where the Heart Is||Novalee Nation|
|2002||Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones||Padmé Amidala|
|Closer||Alice Ayres / Jane Jones|
|2005||Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith||Padmé Amidala|
|V for Vendetta||Evey Hammond|
|2006||Paris, je t’aime||Francine||Segment: “Faubourg Saint-Denis”|
|Goya’s Ghosts||Inés Bilbatúa / Alicia|
|2007||My Blueberry Nights||Leslie|
|Hotel Chevalier||Rhett||Short film|
|The Darjeeling Limited||Rhett|
|Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium||Molly Mahoney|
|2008||The Other Boleyn Girl||Anne Boleyn|
|New York, I Love You||Rifka Malone||Appears in the segment directed by Mira Nair
Also director and writer for one segment
|2009||The Other Woman||Emilia Greenleaf||Also executive producer|
|Black Swan||Sayers / White Swan / Odette|
|I’m Still Here||Herself||Cameo|
|2011||No Strings Attached||Emma Kurtzman||Also executive producer|
|2013||Thor: The Dark World||Jane Foster|
|Illusions & Mirrors||Young Woman||Short film|
|2015||The Seventh Fire||—||Executive producer; documentary|
|Knight of Cups||Elizabeth|
|The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards||Laura||Segment: “Lacunae”|
|A Tale of Love and Darkness||Fania Klausner||Also director and writer|
|Jane Got a Gun||Jane Hammond||Also producer|
|2016||Pride and Prejudice and Zombies||—||Producer|
|2017||Song to Song||Rhonda|
|Vox Lux||Celeste Montgomery||Also executive producer|
|The Death & Life of John F. Donovan||Sam Turner|
|Dolphin Reef||Narrator (voice)||Documentary|
|2019||Avengers: Endgame||Jane Foster||Archive footage from Thor: The Dark World and new voice-over|
|Lucy in the Sky||Lucy Cola|
|2022||Thor: Love and Thunder||Jane Foster/ Mighty Thor||Post-production|
|Denotes films that have not yet been released|
|2003–2004||Sesame Street||Herself||2 episodes|
|2004||Hitler’s Pawn: The Margaret Lambert Story||Narrator||Documentary|
|2006||Saturday Night Live||Host||Episode: “Natalie Portman / Fall Out Boy”|
|The Armenian Genocide||Narrator||Documentary|
|2007, 2012||The Simpsons||Darcy (voice)||Episodes: “Little Big Girl”, “Moonshine River”|
|2007||Saving a Species||Host||“Gorillas on the Brink”|
|2017||Angie Tribeca||Christina Craft||Episode: “This Sounds Unbelievable, But CSI: Miami Did It”|
|2018||Saturday Night Live||Host||Episode: “Natalie Portman / Dua Lipa”|
|2021||What If…?||Jane Foster (voice)||Episode: “What If… Thor Were an Only Child?”|
|2021||Bluey||Whale Documentary Narrator (voice)||Episode: “Whale Watching”|
|TBA||Lady in the Lake||Maddie Schwartz||Filming|
|2006||“Natalie’s Rap”||The Lonely Island||Herself|
|2007||“Dance Tonight”||Paul McCartney||Ghost|
|2008||“Carmensita”||Devendra Banhart||Princess Carmensita Saplingita|
|2017||“My Willing Heart”||James Blake||—|
|2018||“Natalie’s Rap 2.0”||The Lonely Island||Herself|
|2020||“Imagine”||Gal Gadot & Friends||Herself|